Do Parents Own Children? No.

—–Original Message—–
From: R
Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2018 1:58 PM
Subject: Re animal torture, something I’d like to discuss

Herr Professor Doctor Block, I’ve seen many of your writings on LRC. I am a very high IQ engineer, but not an academic, and honestly often find your writings a bit too abstract and academic for my taste. This is not a criticism, please don’t think so, it’s just that I’m a practical man who solves hard real world problems for a living. In your response today on animal torture (, I agree with you, but it made me think back and I’d like to hear your thoughts on my thesis, to wit: children are property of their parents. This has many implications including the right of the parent to discipline his children (corporal punishment) and the right of a single man to not pay a single woman to support her child barring extenuating circumstances. Clearly children are a special case, on a sliding scale of sentience and civilization, not adult and from the beginning simply a higher form of animal. Are they not, like animals, in fact property, but of a special class worthy of protection as they all (children, incompetent adults, and animals) not exactly free and sentient but also something more than inanimate property? I hope you find my question worthy of discussion. Respectfully, R

Dear R: Thanks for your kind words. In my view children are certainly not property of their parents. What, then, does the parent “own?” He owns, instead, the guardianship rights over the child; as long as he cares for the child, no one else may properly take his progeny away from him. Certainly, he may use force to compel the baby to have his diaper changed, and, even, use slight corporal punishment, as long as it is in the best interest of the child. Yes, of course, there is a “sliding scale” or a continuum as I call it in this publication of mine, see below. See in addition, other publications, interviews, debates of mine on children’s rights. (I don’t know what to make of this sentence: “the right of a single man to not pay a single woman to support her child barring extenuating circumstances”)

Block, Walter E. and William Barnett II. 2008. “Continuums” Journal Etica e Politica / Ethics & Politics, Vol. 1, pp. 151-166, June;;

on children:

Block, Walter E. 2014. “Rozeff on Zwolinski; Block on Rozeff.” April 28; (starve child? Positive rights?).

Smith, Edward, Jordan Reel and Walter E. Block. 2014. “The Natural Rights of Children” International Journal of Health Policy and Management. Vol. 2, No. 2, February, pp. 85-89;

December 9, 2013. Debate: Walter E. Block and Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain Radio on spanking children. Michael DeMarco;; skype: michaelmdemarco; 716-533-2171; Video:

Block, Walter E. and Michael Fleischer. 2010. “How Would An Anarchist Society Handle Child Abuse?” October 13;

Block, Walter E. 2015. “Expiration of private property rights.” The Journal of Philosophical Economics. Vol. VIII, Issue 2, Spring;;

Block, Walter E. 2004. “Libertarianism, Positive Obligations and Property Abandonment: Children’s Rights,” International Journal of Social Economics; Vol. 31, No. 3, pp 275-286;;

Block, Walter E. 2003. “Libertarianism vs. Objectivism; A Response to Peter Schwartz,” Reason Papers, Vol. 26, Summer, pp. 39-62; Nambla, child sexuality, child abuse

Block, Walter E. 1991 [1976]. Defending the Undefendable, New York: Fleet Press, first printing 1976, second printing 1980, third printing 1985; New York: Fox and Wilkes, fourth printing, 1991; chapter on “The Litterer” translated into Italian as “L’imbrattatore Di Luoghi Pubblici: Un Eroe”, in Claustrofobia, March 1978, No. 33, pp. 19-24; chapter on “The Employer of Child Labor” reprinted in Libertarian Familist, Vol. 11, No. 8, October 1992, pp. 1-4

April 27, 2015. Michael FreeMan []; Josh Davis;; how I became a libertarian, minimum wage, the future of higher education, anarchism versus monarchism, children’s rights, pro choice versus pro life, kid’s rights.;

Spanking children:

December 9, 2013. Debate: Walter Block and Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain Radio on spanking children. Michael DeMarco;; skype: michaelmdemarco; 716-533-2171; Video:;

Block, Walter E. 2016. Starving Child, Part III: Spanking Children; November 5;

Starving Child, Part III: Spanking Children

Mosquito, Bionic. 2016. “Walter Hits One Out of the Park.” November 5;

July 16, 2017. Vancouver, BC, Canada. Walter Block debates Tim Moen, Leader of the Canadian Libertarian Party.
436 W Pender Street, downtown Vancouver at 2:30pm. Topic: Is spanking children compatible with libertarianism? Contact: Victor Pross:; or go Open to the public.


7:50 pm on April 15, 2018